We have more to learn: For a number of years, Tel Aviv
has been considered one of the most liberal cities in the world and the gay capital of the Middle East. Both within the Israeli public and with the media, progress and an increasing openness appear to have grown towards the LGBT community, but data revealed by the American Pew Research Center show another side of Israel.
According to a comprehensive survey
conducted by the institute in 39 countries, only 40% of Israelis believe that homosexuality is something that society should accept, while 47% believe the opposite. This figure is lower than in any other western, developed country that was surveyed, with the exception of South Africa. Still, Israel is the most accepting country toward gays in the Middle East.
The survey, which sampled 37,653 respondents across the globe, was conducted between March 2 to May 1, 2013 and proved once again that tolerance towards homosexuality is higher as religion plays less of a role in life of the population.
The study also shows that globally, tolerance towards homosexuals is greater among young people, and in a substantial number of the countries, women are more tolerant than men toward gays.
According to the study, the country most accepting of gays
is Spain, where 88% of the respondents said that society should accept the LGBT community. Within the European Union, Spain was followed by Germany (87%), the Czech Republic (80%), France (77%), and the UK (76%). Even in Italy, where religion is perceived as playing a major role in life, 74% of those questioned responded in the affirmative.
Conservative Greece had a 53% affirmation rate.
Among the more tolerant countries were: Canada
(70% support) and the US (60%) for North America; in Latin America, Argentina (74%), Chile (68%), Mexico (61%) and Brazil (60%). The Asian Pacific countries had a mostly gloomy outlook, but outstanding among these were Australia (79%) and the Philippines (73%).
Islamic countries had the least acceptance of gays, almost all having a majority of the population against acceptance of homosexuals: 97% in Jordan, 95% in Egypt, 94% in Tunisia and 93% in the Palestinian Authority and Indonesia. Even in Turkey, a developed country largely considered western in its ideals, 78% of the population opposes homosexuality.
According to the study, in Israel, tolerance among secular Jews
toward gays is more than twice that of those who described themselves as traditional, religious or haredi (61% vs. 26%). Only two percent of Muslims in Israel said that they support the acceptance of homosexuals.
According to the Pew Institute, in most of the countries which were surveyed, there weren't significant differences between the responses of men and women, but Israel
was different. According to the data, Israel is the country where the gap between men and women’s views on the subject is greatest – at 17% (48% of women believe that they should be accepted, compared with only 31% of men).
Thousands at Israel Gay Pride Week 2013 (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
Another note of interest is tolerance towards homosexuality
in Israel among different age groups: 40% of those 18-29; 44% aged 30-49, and 35% among those aged 50 and older. Either way, young Israelis are still far from those in European countries: in Spain, 91% of 30-19 year olds are accepting; and in Germany, 90%. The remaining EU countries do not lag far behind.
The most liberal in Israel: 30-49 year olds (Photo: Ido Erez)
Encouragement might be taken from the slight improvement in numbers the Israeli public has experienced in the last few years. According to the Pew Institute, since 2007 there has been an increase of 2% among those who believe that gays and lesbians should be accepted. Six years ago, those in support only stood at 38%.
Still, this is a very moderate improvement: almost all western
countries surveyed experienced more significant improvement than this since the last survey.
Topping the list: South Korea experienced a substantial rise of 21%, followed by the US (+11%), Canada (+10%) and Italy (+9%). Interestingly, in the PA
this time, there was a 5% decrease in tolerance toward gays and lesbians.
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